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USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card Review

Dayana Yochim

Written by Dayana Yochim
Edited by Carolyn Kimball
Fact-checked by Andrea Coombes

March 12, 2024

Why trust us? has no financial relationship with any of the credit card providers whose products we analyze and review. Our opinions are based solely on data and our own extensive independent research — that means unbiased guidance for consumers. Rewards cards in our cashback credit card calculator are listed in descending order according to how much money they pay out annually based on the inputs.

This USAA members-only card has a few niche perks for servicemembers. Otherwise, it’s an average 1.5% cash back card with minimal sign-up incentives.

The provisions and perks that come with the USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card are really bangin' for servicemembers. But don’t let a case of the FOMOs ruin your day if you’re not in the ranks and ineligible to apply. There are other flat-rate unlimited cash back cards with similar — superior, even — benefits for the layfolk, too. (These Best 2% Cash Back Credit Cards are worth checking out.)

But if your heart is set on a USAA credit card — I hear the customer service is unparalleled — the rewards setup on the USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express is worth a look. (Compare your cash back earning potential on both cards: See USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card vs. USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card.)

The basics: The USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card pays 1.5% cash back on purchases, no category restrictions. Get a 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases.

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Best for Low-Hassle Rewards

USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card

USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card Logo
Cashback Per Year
Annual Fee
Welcome Bonus
Want to compare more cards? Use our full calculator.

USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card pros and cons

thumb_up_off_alt Pros

  • 1.5% unlimited cashback on all purchases
  • Rewards redeemable after you’ve earned $1
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Includes Visa Signature perks
  • Sometimes offers 0% intro APR

thumb_down_off_alt Cons

  • Requires USAA membership
  • No sign-up bonus
  • Higher flat-rate cash back cards available

USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card cashback rewards spending categories

The following table shows the cashback rewards rate per $1 spent in the six most common spending categories. The “Bonus Rate” refers to the amount you can earn in excess of the card’s standard rewards rate.

Some cashback cards limit the spending amount eligible for the bonus rate (aka the “Spend Cap”). Once you hit that cap (e.g., $1,500 spending in a particular category during a defined time period), the rewards rate on future purchases in that category reverts to the lower “Default Rate.”

Category Default Rate Bonus Rate Bonus Spend Cap Bonus Spend Period (Months)
Gas 1.50% - - -
Travel 1.50% - - -
Dining 1.50% - - -
Entertainment 1.50% - - -
Pharmacy 1.50% - - -
Groceries 1.50% - - -
Other Purchases 1.50% - - -

What we like

No earnings limits. No categories to track. No annual fees to pay. Simply get 1.5% cash back on all qualifying purchases (read: everything). We're big fans around here of flat-rate, no-hassle rewards cards.

Rewards are redeemable at any time and for any amount after you’ve earned at least $1 in cash back.

The fact that there’s no foreign transaction fee makes sense, especially for a customer base with the potential to be deployed.

Benefits include trip cancellation and interruption insurance, travel accident insurance, emergency assistance, concierge services, and more.

Reward redemption options are plentiful. In addition to using rewards for a statement credit or having it electronically deposited to an eligible USAA account, the USAA Rewards Center lets you apply the money toward the purchase of travel accommodations, merchandise and gift cards, or make a charitable contribution to a participating charity.

May offer a lower APR than other cards if you carry a balance. Perk alert for active duty servicemembers: You may qualify for an ultra-low 4% interest rate on your USAA credit card balances. That’s even lower than the 6% available if you’re covered under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and state military bennies.

What we don't like

Rewards card shoppers can do better than the 1.5% cash back rate. In fact, USAA's own Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card pays more in annual awards, based on an average consumer's monthly credit card spending..

Eligibility to even apply for the card is based on your or a family member’s current or former military service, or your relationship to a current USAA member. (See more on USAA membership requirements.)

Skimpy new cardmember offerings. Since we began tracking this card, we haven't seen USAA offer a welcome bonus to potential customers. I have seen a 0% promotional deal on balance transfers and new purchases in the past. Recently the offer applied only to new purchases.

High 5% cash advance fee. In a word, don't. (Or at least try not to use your credit card as an ATM for quick cash.) If you absolutely must, transfer the money electronically to a USAA deposit account to get the fee waived.

The tradeoff between simplicity (a flat-rate cashback card like this) and complexity (rotating rewards categories and whatnot) is the opportunity for a higher potential payoff (with another cashback card).

The bottom line

Is the USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card the best rewards card for your wallet? The answer depends entirely on your spending patterns. Let the numbers speak for themselves: Use the Cashback Credit Card Calculator to see which credit card pays back the highest rewards based on how much you spend each month.

USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card fine print

USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa rewards deets and rates and fees.

Does the USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card charge an annual fee?

No, there is no annual fee for the USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card.

tips_and_updates Trivia time!

How common are annual fees? Roughly 17% of the consumer cash back cards we review charge an annual fee. They range from $39 to $99, with an average annual fee of $67.

Does the USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card offer a welcome bonus?

No, the USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card card does not currently offer a welcome bonus.

tips_and_updates Fun fact

More than half (55%) of the consumer cash back credit cards we track in the database offer a welcome bonus, ranging from $30 up to $300. The average sign-up bonus for new cardholders is $197, with the median being $200.

How much cash back can I earn with the USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card?

The average American that spends $1000 per month will earn $180.00 in cash back per year using the USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card. For comparison, the average annual rewards payout from the cashback credit cards in the database is $191.26, and $180 is the median.

These calculations are based on average consumer spending data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the reward payout rates from the providers we track. Of course, you’re so much more than an average data point (aka “consumer unit,” in BLS parlance). The amount you can earn in cashback rewards using the USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card depends entirely on your unique spending habits.

Find out exactly how much you’ll rake in with the USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card by tailoring the spending inputs in the calculator above.

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The results of the Credit Card Rewards Calculator are based on the monthly spending amounts you enter and the annual dollar value of the rewards each credit card program pays per $1 spent. Credit card companies often express this payout amount as a percentage (e.g., 1.5% of every dollar spent) or on a points basis (e.g. ,1.5 points for every dollar spent). We converted all of them to a dollar amount (“Cash Back Per Year”) to make comparing offers easier.

To calculate the amount of cash back you could earn per year, we factored in:

  • Spend category inputs: The default dollar values for each “Spend Category” in the Best Cashback Credit Cards tool — gas, groceries, travel, restaurant, entertainment, pharmacy, other — are based on average American spending data from the Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. We also include additional spend categories (such as streaming services, online shopping, utilities, transit, Amazon and more) to help you see which rewards cards are most closely aligned with your actual spending patterns. We encourage you to customize the monthly spend inputs for the most accurate results.
  • Tiered rewards rates: If a rewards credit card pays higher cashback rates on certain spending categories (also called “Bonus Rewards”), that difference is reflected in the total “Cash Back Per Year” tally.
  • Rewards spending caps: Some cards impose category- or time-based limits (monthly, quarterly, annually) that affect the amount of rewards you can earn. For example, a card may pay 3% cash back on groceries on up to $1,000 of spending each quarter, then revert to the base/default rewards rate until the following quarter. We accounted for bonus spending caps and timeframe in the calculations.
  • Default rewards rates: Purchases that exceed a spending cap are usually subject to a lower default rewards rate (e.g., 1% or 1.5%). We mathed that out too.
  • Annual fees: If a rewards card charges an annual fee, we deducted that amount from the “Cash Back Per Year” total to provide a true accounting of a card’s annual rewards payout.

What’s not included in the “Cash Back Per Year” total is the cash value of any sign-up/introductory bonus. We highlight any Welcome Bonus separately. While sign-up bonuses can be the most lucrative part of getting a new cashback rewards credit card, not everyone will want or be able to do what it takes to earn the extra cash. (It usually requires spending a certain amount in a specified time period after the card is activated.)

About the Editorial Team

Dayana Yochim
Dayana Yochim

Dayana Yochim has been writing (articles, books, podcasts, stirring speeches) about personal finance and investing for more than two decades, focusing on bringing clarity and the occasional comedic aside to what is often a murky, humorless topic. She’s written for NerdWallet, The Motley Fool,, Woman’s Day, Forbes, Newsweek and others, and been a guest expert on "Today," "Good Morning America," CNN, NPR and wherever they’ll hand her a mic.

Carolyn Kimball
Carolyn Kimball

Carolyn Kimball is Managing Editor for Reink Media Group and the lead editor for content on Carolyn has more than 20 years of writing and editing experience at major media outlets including NerdWallet, the Los Angeles Times and the San Jose Mercury News. She specializes in coverage of personal financial products and services, wielding her editing skills to clarify complex (some might say befuddling) topics to help consumers make informed decisions about their money.

Andrea Coombes
Andrea Coombes

Andrea Coombes has 20+ years of experience helping people reach their financial goals. Her personal finance articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, MarketWatch, Forbes, and other publications, and she's shared her expertise on CBS, NPR, "Marketplace," and more. She's been a financial coach and certified consumer credit counselor, and is working on becoming a Certified Financial Planner. She knows that owning pets isn't necessarily the best financial decision; her dog and two cats would argue this point.